tidbits, fragments, and ephemera 15: Baldwin Lee’s “Black Americans in the South”

tidbits, fragments, and ephemera is a usually weekly but not always, sometimes substantial but not making any promises glimpse at some information and news related to Generation X in the Deep South.


Baldwin Lee and “Black Americans in the South,” 1984

After studying at MIT and Yale, Chinese-American photographer Baldwin Lee took a backroads expedition through the South in the 1980s. The link above is to Lee’s website, and below is one of six short videos on YouTube on the cmaweb channel that have Lee talking about his work in Mississippi, Louisian, and South Carolina.

“Photographing Black Lives in America’s South” in Time magazine, 2015

excerpt: “Baldwin Lee’s inspired work from the mid-1980s deserves to be known by a larger audience. It is the result of a keen talent and intellect working with discipline, passion, concern, and risk. The neglected world he describes has perhaps vanished by now, but it is my hope that his unique images along with his words will find a publisher and enrich our understanding of what photographers do.”

“Baldwin Lee’s unblinking views of the South” in The Virginian-Pilot, June 2012

excerpt: “Baldwin Lee journeyed into unknown territory in 1982 after taking a job in Knoxville, where he founded the photography program for the University of Tennessee.”


level:deepsouth is an online anthology about growing up Generation X in the Deep South during the 1970s, ’80s, and ’90s. The anthology is open to submissions of creative nonfiction (essays, memoirs, and reviews) and images (photos and flyers), as well as to contributions for the lists.

tidbits, fragments, and ephemera 10

tidbits, fragments, and ephemera is a usually weekly but not always, sometimes substantial but not making any promises glimpse at some information and news related to Generation X in the Deep South.


The Dirty South of the 1990s, on Hip Hop Music History

excerpted: “Dirty South Rap is a subgenre of hip hop music that emerged from the southern United States in the mid 1990s, that drew from hardcore rap, gangsta rap, bounce music, miami bass, chopped and screwed music, and incorporation of live instrumentation found in southern styles.  It often blended the more aggressive hardcore rap with slower soulful beats or party-oriented music. [ . . . ] In Atlanta, hip hop acts such as Arrested Development and Kriss Kross found success in the early ’90s. Arrested Development’s style was similar to that of the Native Tongues collective with positive Afrocentric lyrics with a southern flavor.”

The Houston Oilers become the Tennessee Titans, 1997 – 1999

In 1997, the NFL team was moved to Nashville, though they first played in Memphis, while their facilities were being built and readied. They remained the Oilers for two seasons, then were renamed (since the name Tennessee Oilers made no sense).

Mardi Gras, February 1980

This three-minute news clip comes from WDSU-TV. It shows the parade and crowds at the annual Mardi Gras celebration in New Orleans. The year prior, 1979, Mardi Gras festivities were cancelled due to a police strike.

Charles Barkley at Auburn, 1981 – 1984

Raised in Leeds, Alabama, the great forward-center Charles Barkley played college basketball at Auburn University in the early 1980s, before being drafted as a junior by the Philadelphia 76ers. Barkley, who was 6′ 6″ tall and weighed 270 lb., was called “the round mound of rebound.” After playing in the NBA from 1984 through 2000, as well as winning two gold medals in Olympic basketball in 1992 and 1996, he is a fixture of sports commentary today.

Georgia’s Charter Schools Act of 1998

By the time Georgia passed its Charter Schools Act of 1998, the youngest GenXers were 18 years old and finishing school. Although the children of GenXers have multiple options for K-12 education – public, private, magnet, home school, virtual, charter – there were only two options for most children in the 1970s, ’80s, and ’90s: public and private. Magnet schools were being tried in the 1970s, and in those days, home school was mostly for very sick kids or very religious families. But by the 1990s, the mushrooming of new educational options had begun.


level:deepsouth is an online anthology about growing up Generation X in the Deep South during the 1970s, ’80s, and ’90s. The anthology is open to submissions of creative nonfiction (essays, memoirs, and reviews) and images (photos and flyers), as well as to contributions for the lists.

tidbits, fragments, and ephemera 9

tidbits, fragments, and ephemera is a usually weekly but not always, sometimes substantial but not making any promises glimpse at some information and news related to Generation X in the Deep South.


Tennessee Waltz (alternate title: Tennessee Nights), 1989

By the 1980s, screen media like television and media had long been in full effect as the main providers of imagery and narratives about the South. Functioning as arbiters of truth, Hollywood offered an array of portrayals of Southern life, especially the small-town and rural South, as a place that continued to be violent, racist, and hostile to outsiders. Employing familiar actors Ned Beatty (of Deliverance fame) and Rod Steiger (from In the Heat of the Night), this film from 1989 has a visiting British attorney crossing racial lines and facing the consequences.

Mike Espy elected to Congress from Mississippi, 1986

In November 1986, near the end of Reagan’s second term, Democrat Mike Espy was elected to the 2nd Congressional District in Mississippi, making him the state’s first black representative to a federal seat since Reconstruction, which ended more than a hundred years earlier. Espy was born in 1953 in Yazoo City, so was in his early 30s when he was first elected. He remained in office until 1997.

HIV and AIDS in the ’80s and ’90s

This CDC report from 2001 shows a quickie glimpse at information related to AIDS from 1981 – 2000. We see that the South had 25.7% of cases nationally and that mainly the oldest GenXers were affected. In 1981, GenXers were between newborn and 16, and in 2000, between 19 and 35 years old. Considering that only one-quarter of cases were occurring in the South, and those mainly in high-risk groups, the average GenXer in the South was highly unlikely to contract the disease.

An Econochrist discography

Though they made their name in the Bay Area around San Francisco and Oakland, this hardcore-punk band was originally from Little Rock, Arkansas. They played together in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

The 1992 National Championship (in under 33 minutes)

Led by Bear Bryant alum Gene Stallings and QB Jay Barker, the University of Alabama won a national championship in 1992, beating Miami in the Sugar Bowl 34 – 13. After winning a number of championships in the 1970s and ’80s, the team and its fans may have been hoping that the golden days were back. However, it was a one-off thing, and they would have to wait until 2009 for Nick Saban to have Bear-like success.


level:deepsouth is an online anthology about growing up Generation X in the Deep South during the 1970s, ’80s, and ’90s. The anthology is open to submissions of creative nonfiction (essays, memoirs, and reviews) and images (photos and flyers), as well as to contributions for the lists.